How to tell Mom you love her…

In case you have been living in a bubble and have missed the radio and television commercials promoting the “perfect gift” for your Mom, this is your not-so-subtle reminder that it’s Mother’s Day this Sunday!  And there are still 3 ½ shopping days left to find the perfect thing to let mom know that you love her!

Wondering what to get Mom this year to prove your love?  Here are a few local suggestions that just might prove the point.


Take her for Brunch

Nothing says “love you Mom” than feeding her without her having to do the cooking.  If you aren’t up to organizing your own brunch or dinner, Almonte does not disappoint with a lovely variety of restaurants that are sure to leave Mom feeling full (and loved).

Café Postino – is offering their regular menu service on Sunday from noon – 8 p.m.  There will be some Specials for Mom that dinner.  Reservations required.

Heirloom Café – does an amazing Brunch Service every Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 – 2:30.  Reservations definitely recommended.  Mother’s Day is SOLD OUT, but there are some openings still available for Saturday.  Mom won’t mind if it’s Saturday instead!

Mill Street Crepe –  Chef Wendy has promised to have a wonderful Mother’s Day Special this Sunday, including her regular menu of crepes and salads and soup.  She highly recommends reservations please.  Open Sunday from 10-3.

Civitan Hall – is offering a Mother’s Day breakfast on Sunday from 8-12.  Only $8.


Send her some Flowers

Acanthus Floral and Botanical – Who doesn’t like flowers?  Mom will be delighted with an arrangement from Acanthus, or even better, one of their terrariums.  Shop owner, Jamie Roy, will prepare a beautiful bouquet for your Mom!

Cashmere & Rose – New owner, Natalie DeGreef, offers beautiful floral bouquets, as well as other gift items including jewellery and other gift items.



Is your Mom a Foodie?

Peche et Poivre – Stop by this little Mill Street shop and pick up some tasty local items like cheese and olives and crackers or order a gift basket from Lise and Sandra.  They can put together something special for your mom, to match your budget.

Hummingbird Chocolate – Does your Mom LOVE chocolate?  Then you can’t go wrong by picking up some of Drew and Erica Gilmour’s newest creations including boxed Truffles (boxes of 6 or 12) filled with a variety of ganache such as Earl-Grey Infusion, Irish Coffee Cream, Orange, White Chocolate Peche & Fruit, or Raspberry.  Mom doesn’t like Truffles?  No problem she is sure to enjoy the Salted Caramels coated in Dark Chocolate with a Vancouver Island Fleur de Sel (boxes of 6 or 9).  And it’s perfectly fine if you pick yourself up a little treat while shopping for Mom.  After all, this chocolate is practically health food!

Good Food Tour – Give her a gift card for an Almonte walking tour that promotes local history, architecture and art while experiencing some of the best food and drink in the entire Ottawa region.


Treat her to a manicure/pedicure

Some Mom’s aren’t fussy about flowers or food, but they do like a little pampering.  Almonte has a few options for some Mom-spoiling, and you might just want to go along with her… for moral support!

DNA Designer Nail Artist –  A unique Nail Spa offering a personal service in a relaxing environment that is both professional and hygienic, located in the mall at the end of Mill Street.

Blush & Black – from organic hand and foot treatments to shellac nail polish, this Mill Street shop will make Mom feel pampered.


Spend some time with her

Remember when you were a little kid, with a little allowance, and you had to make your Mother’s Day present?  Either a craft you made at Brownies or Scouts, or the home-made card you made during Art Class?  I’d be willing to bet your Mom still has some of these treasures tucked away in a drawer or box, for safe-keeping.

While all these gift suggestions are lovely and will certainly help Mom feel remembered and loved, the one for-sure gift you can give Mom, that she will be sure to tell your siblings about, is the gift of time.  If you are separated by distance, schedule a phone call and spend some time just catching up with her.  Take her out for a cup of coffee or tea, and a little walk in the park.  Take her for a drive – and go out to the Mill of Kintail.  Take her out for her favourite ice cream to the little stand on Mill Street.

Whatever you choose to do, don’t forget to actually tell her….  “I love you Mom.  Thanks for everything.”

Is THIS a sellers market?

Is THIS a Seller’s market?

First let’s understand exactly what a “Sellers Market” is.  According to Investopedia a Seller’s market is “a condition characterized by a shortage of goods available for sale.  In a seller’s market in commodities, the seller–because of the scarcity of underlying commodities or goods–is able to obtain better conditions for the sale, or higher prices.”

So now let’s apply this definition to our real estate market. “Members of the Ottawa Real Estate Board sold 712 residential properties in January 2018 through the Board’s Multiple Listing Service® System, compared with 664 in January 2017, an increase of 7.2 per cent. The five-year average for January sales is 638.  This means demand is increasing.

“While January is typically the month we see the lowest number of listings come onto the market, the numbers for this month are very low,” Rick Eisert, 2017 President of the Ottawa Real Estate Board, observes. “The five-year average for new listings in January is 1,396 for residential and 500 for condominiums. January 2018’s listings were at 994 and 406 respectively.” This shows that supply is dropping.

“We saw this trend throughout 2017, and the result is our resale market is being challenged by decreasing supply in both the residential and condo markets. Furthermore, as the supply continues to be reduced, it will tend to put an upward pressure on prices. This is simple supply and demand economics,” he adds.”

“For homeowners thinking of selling, this is a good time to get your property on the market before spring,” Eisert advises. “Since inventory is currently low, sellers will certainly get attention because selection for buyers in some areas, in particular, is quite limited.”*

So, that’s the news for Ottawa, but what’s happening here in Almonte and Carleton Place?  My sense is that homes are selling very, very quickly in Carleton Place – and prices don’t seem to matter.  I have seen lots of conditional and firm sales of homes over the $400k mark – which is above the average home price for Carleton Place.  Activity seems busy in Carleton Place because they are at least getting new listings on the market.  There were 40 new properties listed since January 1st, 4 conditionally sold, and 17 sold firm!  That’s fast!

In Almonte we have seen very few new listings on the market – only 17 since January 1st, and 2 of those are conditionally sold and one sold firm.  While 17 might sound like a lot, this includes condos as well as single family homes, and prices range from $232,900 to $1,550,000.  So, not a lot to choose from in any price point! I have many buyers looking to buy in Almonte but the inventor simply isn’t available yet.

So, if you have been thinking of selling your home, this might be YOUR year!

** taken from the Ottawa Real Estate Board website

How to pay off your mortgage faster


A mortgage is often the largest debt that one undertakes and as a result, many homeowners look to pay it off as soon as they can. In addition to reducing overall debt, paying off your mortgage early enables you to purchase a second home or investment property. Try one of these strategies to reduce your mortgage principal.

Make bi-weekly mortgage payments Bi-weekly payments involve 26 half-payments each year instead of the standard 12 full payments. By making 13 full payments each year, you’ll pay down the principal sooner and reduce the amount of interest you’ll pay over the long run.

• Increase your mortgage payment You can also increase the amount you pay towards the principal of the payment each month. Most people have higher incomes a few years into their mortgage than they did when they first took it out. Keeping your payment on par with your increases in income will help reduce your mortgage amount significantly and may also reduce the amount of your monthly payment over time.

Make additional payments If bi-weekly payments or increasing your monthly mortgage payment are not feasible, try to make extra payments when you can. If you have extra money at the end of the year, put it toward your principal.

The majority of consumers who have a mortgage feel it’s important to pay it off as soon as possible, especially if nearing retirement.

If you’re considering paying off your mortgage early, consider the following:

· Do you have the cash available to pay down the debt? If you’ve accumulated six months in emergency reserves and have paid off other loans and credit cards, your mortgage should be the next debt you target.

· Will you have enough cash to save for retirement and other financial goals?

·How long do you plan to stay in the home? It may make more sense to keep your money liquid and not tied up in a home you might sell in a few years.

If you have mortgage questions and would like to know what your best options are, give me a call (613-407-4309) or send me an e-mail – – I am happy to put you in touch with the right people!


Take photos of your home now!

Take your pictures now!

You may not be thinking of selling your home right now, but you might be surprised how quickly things can change with life plans.  That’s why I am advising anyone and everyone I meet to take outdoor pictures of their home NOW.  This way, should you decide over the fall or winter that you want to list your house for sale next spring, you will be ahead of the game with beautiful outdoor pictures of your home – without snow!

Sure you can list your house for sale next March, just before the crazy selling season begins, and you can prepare your marketing material with those lovely winter wonderland photos, but they will very quickly date themselves while you wait for Mother Nature to green things up and provide lovely outdoor photo potential again.  With a little careful planning (even if you are NOT thinking of selling) you can be prepared for next year’s real estate market.

Take LOTS of photos.  In this digital age it no longer costs money to develop your photos, so take LOTS of pictures.  You can delete the ones you don’t like and it’s much better to have too many rather than too few to choose from.  Take pictures from all angles as well.  Centre front, angled from the right, angled from the left, side views, and the backyard as well.   Remove the car from the driveway – and make sure the garage door is closed.

NOW is the perfect time to do a photo shoot – if you wait for a few more weeks the leaves will have started to change colours and that too will “date” your photos – get out there as soon as possible and snap away, and then file them away on your computer.

Who you gonna call?

I am always being asked by my clients to recommend local contractors in the Almonte and Carleton Place area for a variety of “repairs” – from bat removal from attics to building a deck to installing eavestrough to home-cleaning services to foundation fixes.

I love to “shop local” and make a point of connecting with honest, reliable, fair contractors who understand customer service so I love to be able to share good names with my clients, knowing they will receive excellent service.

With all the rain we have had this spring and summer (and continue to have because it’s raining again today) – I recently had the need of a foundation expert, on a long-weekend.  Who did I call?  I called Ben Tuck, a sole proprietor from Minix Water Proofing.  Ben is a local fellow that I have known for several years now.  I have had him look at small jobs such as cracks in garage floors, to surface cracks in brand-new homes, to very large cracks in concrete porches (which Ben advised me was outside his league but referred me to someone else who could handle the job!)

What I like most about Ben is that his approach to looking at a job is so practical. He looks for the long-term fix based on his extensive experience, what he knows will work.  He doesn’t come into a job and try to line up his next month by making a small job into a big job! He is very calm, practical, no-nonsense, and you end up feeling very informed and confident that he will do the best job for you.

He proposed an excellent fix on this most recent “call for help” and my clients are delighted with his quote and pricing.  So, if you have some foundation or concrete concerns, I don’t hesitate to recommend Ben Tuck from Minix…. And don’t forget to tell him I sent you!

Ben Tuck
Phone: (613)206-0781

Chili-rubbed Spareribs

From the Kitchen…..

This is a favourite recipe for our family – one that we use for some family gatherings – especially Father’s Day.   The Dad’s in our family will be very happy to have this served this June 18th.  What are you making for your Dad?

Chili-rubbed Spareribs
4 racks pork side ribs, about 2.5 kg total
2 tbsp vegetable oil
¼ cup ketchup
2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 tbsp chilli powder
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp ground cumin
6 cloves garlic, minced

  • Trim excess fat from ribs. Spareribs have a thin membrane running along bony side. It shrinks during cooking, causing ribs to curl, and remains tough and chewy. To remove, run a fork tine underneath membrane and lift fork to loosen. Grasp membrane firmly and pull. It should come off easily in one piece.
  • To tenderize ribs, fold or cut racks in half. Place in a large saucepan and completely cover with water. Cover and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 1 hour. (If not using right away, wrap and refrigerate or freeze. Ribs will keep well in the refrigerator for 2 days
  • Stir oil with ketchup, Worcestershire, chili powder, sugar, cumin and garlic.
  • When ready to barbecue, oil grill and preheat barbecue. Place cooked ribs on hot grill. Barbecue 5 minutes per side. Then generously brush or spoon sauce on both sides of ribs. Continue barbecuing until coating is hot and browned, from 2 to 3 more minutes per side. Serve any remaining sauce for dipping.

Our new homes finishing touch.

Contractor of the Month

As homeowners who recently moved to a new, unlandscaped, unfinished basement, un-eavestroughed home we have been making use of lots of the local contractors in and around the Almonte area.  Every year we take on another project, as time and money permit, and our most recent “home” project was to complete a patio and walk-way to our yard.

Rick Peplinski from Everlasting Landscaping is a local contractor with many years of experience in the landscaping business.  He has a small company – one employee and himself, and we found him to be professional and wonderful to deal with.  He did one part of our landscaping job last fall – and promised to have it finished in time for my client party – which he did!  The fall weather didn’t cooperate for him to finish, so he put us at the top of his list for this spring…  and again the weather made it difficult for him to get started…

He has just completed the walkway to our back yard and we are thrilled with his work.  If you are planning a landscaping project this year (or next) and are looking for a referral, I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending Rick!  Let him know you got his name for me!

Everlasting Landscaping 

Rick Peplinski
Phone: (613)858-8437
Phone: (613)222-8437

Great places to stay in Almonte this summer?


We recently had guests from out of town that we couldn’t put up at our home (all the other beds were full!) so we made arrangements for them to stay at two of the local Bed and Breakfasts in Almonte.  They are both located on one of the main streets in Almonte – Queen Street – across the road from each other, and located along the banks of the Mississippi River.

Menzies House is an 1850’s home, originally constructed of stone, with a white frame house built overtop.  It was once a Merchant’s store, and had a blacksmith building at the end of the property.  The House is of Anglo-Norman design which features a long verandah entranceway and dormers.  This style was more popular in Quebec.  The hosts, Pat and Frank Vetter, are a delightful couple who have owned the B&B for many years.  Included with the delicious breakfasts that Pat serves up for you are tales of the town.  Pat and Frank are very social – and are happy to tell you all about Almonte.  This was a first B&B experience for our guests that stayed here, and they couldn’t have been more delighted.

Menzies House has 3 rooms of various sizes and prices are quite reasonable.  There aren’t any hotels or motels in Almonte, so this is an excellent option for out of town guests visiting you.

The rest of our guests were housed at The Almonte Riverside Inn.  The innkeeper, Rob Prior, has owned the Inn for about 5 years, and although it started out with a quaint little restaurant this has since closed and now just serves up breakfast to the guests.  The Inn has 6 rooms of varying sizes with comparable pricing to Menzies House.  ARI is a beautiful stone home that was previously known as the “Judge’s House”.  The grounds are simply beautiful and Rob is an equally friendly host.

If you weren’t going anywhere this summer, it might be an interesting idea to play “tourist” right in your own community…  a night way to enjoy the town as a visitor can do a lot to restore the soul….  Hmm… something to think about!

Finding the right home inspector.

Ask the Home Inspector

Steve Ott is a Registered Home Inspector and a member of the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors ( and a full-time Home Inspector by trade. Steve is the sole owner and operator of Ottawa Valley Home Inspections Ltd ( which provides home & septic system inspection services throughout the valley and Ottawa area.

Did you know that unlike a plumber or electrician, the home inspection industry in Ontario is not regulated? So, what does this mean to the consumer? It means that anyone can go out with a flashlight and a business card and say that they’re a home inspector. Thus, to ensure that one is getting an HI that is a professional, they should check up on their credentials before hiring them. What one should check is that the HI is a member of the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors because the OAHI is the only professional association recognized by the provincial government. And the OAHI requires all members to keep up their education and to maintain their professional standings annually.

Ask questions such as how long have they been in business? Is it their sole occupation or do they do other work (quite common)? How long does a typical home inspection take? It should be around 3 hours. What kind of report will they receive? It should be electronic or written, not verbal. Ask questions and be comfortable with who you are hiring. In addition, any OAHI inspector can be looked up on to see if they are a current member in good standing.

If you have any questions please feel free to email them to Steve Ott at

I have personally used Steve on many of our investment property home inspections, and many of my clients have also used him, with great satisfaction.  He isn’t a “Mike Holmes Drama Queen” who tells you that the light bulb is burned so you are going to have to rewire the entire house (OK – a dramatic example, but those HGTV Home Inspection shows are also dramatic)!  He offers sound, practical advice, and is often able to offer suggestions of how to remedy a situation or who to turn to for advice.  If you decide to engage the services of Steve, let him know I sent you!